This is exactly what the organizers would have wanted to avoid. Beckham’s first trip to China in March sparked the usual scenes of craziness seen whenever a global celebrity appears in Asia, but everything during Trip 1 seemed to go off without a hitch.
Trip 2 has seen significantly lower media interest so far, but a visit to Tongji University in Shanghai on Thursday saw seven people end up in hospital after students waiting for Beckham to appear broke through the door of the university gymnasium and rushed past a wall of security guards and police.
A statement by the Shanghai police department said three police officers, two university security guards and two students — including a Japanese student — were injured. Beckham’s training session with the university’s soccer team was promptly canceled. Other reports say police used advertising boards as makeshift stretchers and that bags and shoes were left strewn across the ground as the crowd tried to escape the crush. The crowd was so dense that it took the Bentley carrying Becks one minute for every 10 metres it was able to creep forward.
This picture was doing the round on Weibo on Thursday:
The scenes don’t look good, with the sight of fans crushed up against a cage fence bringing to mind some European soccer disasters, and it appears fortunate that this wasn’t any worse.
Later in the day, Becks posted this message to his Sina Weibo account, which he only opened on Monday:
Beckham was banned from giving media interviews in Beijing when he arrived on Monday – perhaps because the Chinese national team hit a new low with a 5-1 defeat to a young Thai team – and you can be sure the media will again be muzzled after this incident.